One of the biggest objections to a ski trip is the cost – and that’s understandable, as flights, equipment rental, and often inflated wintertime prices in ski villages can really add up. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a great skiing trip. Apart from trying to think outside the box, you can also avoid some of the more popular (which can often mean expensive) ski destinations, and try hitting up a more off-piste destination instead. These up and coming resorts often have their own charms; here are a few ideas to get you started.
The San Juan Mountains make a great spot for a winter vacation. Durango’s two ski areas, Purgatory (10,822 feet) and Hesperus (8,800 feet), have enough powder and challenging routes to keep the most seasoned of skiers entertained. Durango comes equipped with terrain parks, half pipes and freestyle areas, making it a great place to get your adrenaline pumping. There are activities other than skiing too, like snow mobile excursions, dog sledding, and the unique ‘ski bike.’
The Scottish Highlands are great for winter skiing. The Cairngorm resort is one of Scotland’s most developed, with lifts and a funicular railway providing easy access to the peaks. You could easily combine a winter trip to Edinburgh with a ski trip in Cairngorm, as the slopes are just a short journey away from many cozy, comfortable Edinburgh hotels. With a bustling Christmas market and a huge New Year celebration (“Hogmanay”), Edinburgh is a great place to spend the festive season.
If you’re looking for a challenging ski experience without all the bells and whistles of the big resorts, then Alta will suit you perfectly. There are no fancy shops or spas; skiers visit Alta for the exciting terrain and thick snow. Apres-ski beer only costs a couple of bucks, and the food is good too; what more can you ask for? Best yet, it’s only 33 miles from Salt Lake City Airport.
The age old tip of “check out the grocery store” definitely applies to ski trips, where eating in can be a lot of fun and be a considerable savings. I also suggest you always take a look online, as many times you can get a discount on lift tickets or find other savings ideas, like happy hour recommendations or local’s tips, via Facebook pages or the resort’s own website. Knowledge is money!
Popova Sapka, Macedonia
The impeccable snow record makes this European resort a great choice for reliability. Some of the ski lifts only run on weekends, but don’t be put off; Popova Sapka is a great option for the adventurous skier. It’s the only place in Europe offering the opportunity to free-ride, and the chance to go off piste. The resort is about to begin a 30 Million Euro refurbishment, and can only go from strength to strength. Our most off-beat recommendation, this is a great excuse to go exploring European Christmas markets.
Squamish, British Columbia
With the popular resort of Whistler less than an hour away, ski tourists can often overlook Squamish. It’s a pity because the striking scenery, deep powder, and challenging terrain of Squamish makes it just as good (if not better) than Whistler itself. Back country skiiers will particularly enjoy Mount Garibaldi’s Brohm Ridge, and the Diamond Ridge area of Garibaldi National Park. For travel purposes, you’ll be booking your flights to Vancouver, which means you also will have time to experience one of North America’s most livable cities (yes, even in the winter).
If you’re looking to ski somewhere different and save money to enjoy your own luxurious preferences, try one of these ski destination that’s off the beaten path.